NQF reconsiders timeliness of CT scan in stroke-treatment guidelines

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The National Quality Forum (NQF) is now reconsidering its rejection of stroke-treatment guidelines that would call for a CT scan within 45 minutes. However, the group maintains that the current guidelines "recommend that patients with stroke symptoms have a timely CT scan."

At the time of the rejection in late 2008, the NQF said the vague wording of the rule raised too many questions, according to the Wall Street Journal ( WSJ).

The WSJ also reported that "stroke neurologists say the forum's rejection of the 45-minute CT scan rule threatens to compromise stroke care nationwide, possibly resulting in more deaths and disabilities among stroke patients. Hospitals that receive Medicare funding will have to begin publicly reporting as early as next year how well they comply with other stroke-treatment guidelines, but need make no mention of whether they perform CT scans."

Also, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), which "strongly objected to the forum's decision," is expected to discuss the matter at its national meeting in Seattle this month, according to the WSJ.

In response, Janet M. Corrigan, PhD, president and CEO of NQF, said the guidelines intention's point of providing the "right tools to measure and improve healthcare quality" was "unfortunately missed" by the WSJ article.

However, Corrigan told the WSJ that the rule needed to be more finely honed, but that "it has the potential to be a worthy measure."

In a subsequent statement, Corrigan noted that "an expert panel concluded it is important to measure whether candidates for stroke treatment receive timely CT scans. The panel recommended revisions of the measure to provide information most useful for improving patient care."

The NQF also said that despite the WSJ's comments of rejection, of the "211 public comments received, not one objected to this decision. The measure developer is still encouraged to modify and resubmit the measure to NQF."